There are as many definitions for a Behavioral Interview as there are web sites on the internet (sound familiar). The goal is to learn how a candidate acted/reacted in a previous situation to extrapolate how they may react in a similar situation in the future. Sounds easy enough. Again, you can search the topic and find literally hundreds of sample questions. You need to be prepared for every possible question you can be asked. You will find that a handful of key life experiences can answer just about any possible combinations of questions you can be asked. While not ideal, its possible to use the same scenario to answer multiple questions. This is more common in young people that don’t have a lot of life or work experiences to draw from.

You need to thoroughly document these situations and practice presenting them to an interviewer or panel in a manner in which they expect. Did we just mention practice again?

Its important to remember there are no right or wrong answers to most Behavioral Interview questions. There is, however, a right and wrong way to answer the questions. It is not uncommon to face an entire panel of people during this type of interview. You shouldn’t be nervous. The answers should be the same whether you are practicing with a friend, talking to a business associate over drinks, or facing the FBI Phase II panel Interview.

All answers need to be in a format following a simple acronym such as SAR/STAR. For each question you will answer, you want to briefly and concisely describe the Situation. If appropriate, you then want to describe what the Task was. Then describe your personal Action. And finally, you must present the Results of the situation. For many situations, the Task and Action can be combined into one description segment so you often see the acronym as just SAR.

For every scenario you practice, you must consider why the interviewer is asking the question and what kind of an answer they would like to hear. You MUST answer the question the way they expect and to their satisfaction. This is really easy to do with some practice.

Here is a very short list of some common questions. They are presented here to give the beginning reader a feel of what to expect. Again, an internet search will reveal dozens of these types of questions. However, after practicing some of them using your own list of personal situations/scenarios, you will be able to extrapolate your experience to answer just about any question thrown at you.

The questions are not usually questions by definition but are presented in an abbreviated statement format. Imagine the first few like this:

“Describe a time when you were in an extremely stressful situation and tell me what happened”
“Describe a situation where you had a lofty goal to reach and tell me about it”

Put the following statements in a sentence such as above.The bold samples match the sentences above as examples.

How you handled a stressful situation.
How you reached a goal.
A controversial decision you made.
Above and beyond the call of duty.
Where you made a decision based on logic.
Resistance from peers.
Where you failed.
Caught a peer cheating/stealing.
The most difficult decision you made.
Disagreed with supervisor.
Shared someone else’s success with others.
Had to deal with someone you didn’t like.
Conflicting priorities.
Your greatest accomplishment.
Most complex project.
Get others motivated.
Best presentation.
Quick Decision.

Remember each question should be answered in the format of SAR/STAR. Try to be brief without going into a long story. you don’t want to lose their interest. Communication skills are important to just about any job.